Jeon Myeong-un

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This is a Korean name; the family name is Jeon.
Jeon Myeong-un
JeonMyeongun.jpg
1907 picture of Jeon
Korean name
Hangul 전명운
Hanja
Revised Romanization Jeon Myeong-un
McCune–Reischauer Chŏn Myŏng'un
Pen name
Hangul 죽암
Hanja
Revised Romanization Jugam
McCune–Reischauer Chugam

Jeon Myeong-un (born Jonghyeon, Seoul 25 June 1884; died 19 November 1947) was a Korean independence activist. He is best known along with Jang In-hwan for his role in the 1908 assassination of Durham Stevens, a former American diplomat in Japan who was later appointed as an advisor to the Joseon Dynasty government.[1][2]

Jeon was a member of the Dongnip Hyeophoe, a Korean American association in the Bay Area. In March 1908, infuriated by Stevens' remarks claiming that common people in Korea welcomed the increasing Japanese influence in their country, the Dongnip Hyeophoe held a joint meeting with the Daedong Bogukhoe, another local association of Koreans of which Jang was a member.[3] In a 1974 interview, Yang Ju-eun, a fellow attendee of that meeting, remembered that Jeon had a reputation in the community as a man of action, in contrast to Jang, whom he described as a "quiet and shy Christian gentleman".[4]

On March 23, 1908, Jeon and Jang approached Stevens at the Port of San Francisco as he prepared to embark on a ship bound for Washington, D.C. Jeon attempted to fire his revolver at Stevens but his gun, which was wrapped in a handkerchief, would not fire. Jeon then rushed at Stevens and used his weapon as a club to hit Stevens in the face. Jeon then ran off and was pursued by Stevens. Jang then fired at Stevens, the first bullet hit Jeon and two others struck Stevens in the back. The crowd which had gathered urged that they be lynched on the spot; Jang was arrested and held without bail on a charge of murder, while Jeon was sent to the hospital for treatment.[5] After the death of Stevens in hospital, Jeon provided a written statement in Korean detailing his reasons for the attack on Stevens, in which he asserted that Stevens had betrayed the trust of Koreans who "looked to him, as an American, for justice" and expressed his willingness to die in order to express his anger at Stevens' alleged falsehoods about the Korean peoples' condition under Japanese rule. The statement was translated and first printed by the San Francisco Call.[6] There was insufficient evidence to prove that Jeon and Jang had conspired with each other; Jeon was still charged with attempted assassination, but eventually acquitted.[3][4]

Jeon was posthumously awarded the Order of Merit for National Foundation by South Korea's Ministry of Patriots' and Veterans' Affairs in 1962.[2]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "미주한인 100년의 발자취 - 미국서 독립의거 - 전명운, 장인환 의사 (100 year footprints of Korean Americans - Brave deeds for independence - Jeon Myeong-un and Jang In-hwan, martyrs)". Voice of America. 2007-06-18. Retrieved 2007-08-15. [dead link]
  2. ^ a b "竹嵒 전명운(田明雲) 선생". Ministry of Patriots and Veterans Affairs, Republic of Korea. Retrieved 2007-08-15. 
  3. ^ a b Houchins, Lee (October 1994). "The Korean Experience in America, 1903-1924". In McClain, C. Asian Indians, Filipinos, Other Asian Communities and the Law. Routledge. pp. 170–172. ISBN 0815318510. 
  4. ^ a b Lee, K.W.; Grace Kim (January 2005). "Yang, the Eyewitness: The patriot relates his account of the 1908 assassination of the infamous American mercenary Durham Stevens". KoreAm Magazine. Archived from the original on 2008-01-02. Retrieved 2007-11-10. 
  5. ^ Dudden, Alexis (2004). Japan's Colonization of Korea: Discourse and Power. University of Hawaii Press. pp. 81–83. ISBN 0-8248-2829-1.  Some accounts, notably Yang's, state that Jeon only had a toy gun.
  6. ^ Kang, Wi Jo (1997). Christ and Caesar in Modern Korea: A History of Christianity and Politics. State University of New York Press. pp. 40–41. ISBN 0-7914-3247-5.